Did we all have a nice candle-lit Xmas as I did… with lots of drinks at room temperature and water brought in on a wheelbarrow from distant standpipes? Oh, it was glorious! No electricity throughout the season and until now! A never-to-be-forgotten seasonal holiday! Was there ever such a festive period in a 21st century capital city? If the works at Wilkinson Road, were the reason for the permanent power cut, then we knew of them in time for a contingency arrangement to have been put in place at least over Xmas and the New Year.
Do the NPA and its technical section not have the know-how? Xmas was not in the air for many of us in spite of loudspeakers blaring out with raucous, jazzy carols. People did not look or feel Xmassy! Perhaps those who went to parties and clubs had a jolly time, but for a good number, it was a lukewarm affair- nothing extra special except in churches and Christian homes.
There were welcome presents from family and friends here and there, but the whole community did not join in as before with street parades and dancing.
The Police Band turned up as usual to ‘treat’ us to Xmas music. There were only 4 or 5 of them and the benefit we got from hearing the same 3 carols played rather badly round the neighbourhood was more of an irritant than cause for Xmas cheer. I saw hardly any decorations except in some shops and banks. I received 10 Xmas cards, 4 of which arrived from abroad on 14th January 2011. I did not send any locally, relying on mobile phone calls and personal visits. The cards going abroad cost Le7,000 plus Le3,500 each for postage!!! How many could one send?
The experience of ‘Xmas present’ in Sierra Leone is a reminder that we are still in a bad way economically. The reason for the low spirits of the man-in-the-street was obviously poverty which appears to be increasing in spite of all the poverty-reducing organizations and strategies that have been in force for the last few years.
One feels that our government is making real effort to move the country forward but the signs of progress in that direction are still hard to see. Many visiting Sierra Leoneans from overseas have been assessing possibilities for a return home for good. What are they to think?
One worrying thing about the average resident Sierra Leonean is his willingness to accept mediocrity and poor standards.
He feels it his duty to endure, uncomplaining, whatever fate provides for him. He hardly reacts or protests or blames people who need to perform better.
This slipshod attitude to life has been our undoing the reason why we now lag behind countries that we led before. In neighbouring Guinea, all the top Energy officials were recently suspended.
The reason? Poor performance. Do we have the guts to do the same? One felt very elated when our President was selected as one of 3 ECOWAS representatives to try to persuade the former President of Cote d’Ivoire to step down. Sierra Leone had made it to the top! Then I personally became sadly deflated when I heard a BBC commentator remark that ECOWAS had chosen the Presidents of the 3 weakest countries in the region.
Unfortunately, we merit that description because of our state of under-privilege and low achievement. What can we do now to show the region that we are people of substance and dignity? We need to create a new image of ourselves.
One heartening experience that has remained with me this season as an example of triumph over weakness and disability is the sight of a boy of 10 or 11 with one forearm missing.
As I drove along and slowed down to allow him to get on his bike and cross the road, I marvelled at his agility and skill at manoeuvering the bicycle and dealing with traffic in general.
He said ‘Thank you, Ma’ politely and sped off pedaling confidently, his one hand on one handlebar.
Let us as a nation get on our bikes and speed along to catch up with Ghana, Guinea, Gambia, Nigeria and the others since we too have good legs i.e. abundant natural resources, one functioning arm in the form of a reasonable government, and brains! We wish ourselves a good year and a more enjoyable Xmas in 2011.
By Lulu Wright